…As accuse pleads for mercy
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Justice Adolphus Enebeli of the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt has remanded a 39 years old alleged Port Harcourt serial killer, Gracious David West, in prison custody.
David West was remanded in prison custody after pleading guilty in nine count, non guilty in one count of the murder charge and also pleaded for forgiveness from the State High Court handling his matter.
The Rivers State Police Command had filed a suit in PHC/3426/CR/2019, between the accused person and the Inspector General of Police, on 10 count boarding on conspiracy and murder of nine victims.
According to the charges read, West is alleged to have unlawfully killed several women in different hotels and guest houses in parts of Rivers State which is a punishable offence under Section 319 sub 1, Cap 37. Volume 2 laws of Rivers State 1999.
West, however, pleaded guilty to the killing of nine females in hotel, not guilty to the last charge boarding on attempted murder of one of the young ladies in a hotel around Bende Street in Port Harcourt township, stating that he only tied the lady’s hands and legs and left her on the bed.
After taking the plea, the Rivers State Government through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Zaccheus Adango applied to take over the prosecution of the matter which was not opposed by the parties.
The trail Judge Justice Adolphus Enebeli after listening to the accused plea and counsels arguments on the guilty plea, entered that the accused person pleaded not guilty in the charge, making references to different sections of the criminal code of the law of Federal Government and state respectively.
Enebeli further granted the application of Rivers State Government to take over the matter, expressing readiness to give speedy hearing of the case.
He adjourned till 18th, 21st, 27th and 29th of November and 4th of December for hearing and remanded the suspect in prison.
Meanwhile, the suspect, West, had during proceedings told the court that he preferred to tell the truth so he could be pardoned, noting that he committed the crimes unconsciously.
West stated that the police has his N60,000, necklace and wrist watch, urging the court to compel police to release the said items to him.
He said: “My Lord, I have something to say, I killed all other girls in the hotels but that one in Bendel street which is on the tenth charge, I did not kill her, I only tie her on the chair.
“My Lord, all these things I did I did it because I was possessed by evil spirits, I want the court to forgive me, that is why I said the truth.
“My Lord, I have a complaints to make, all my properties I left in the SARS station they have refused to give me, my money, 60,000, my wrist watch and other things, my Lord tell them.”
Speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, MR Vincent Chuku, counsel for the accused explained that “Gracious David West even as at yesterday we had a conference with him in the presence of the police where we discussed this matter and we were elected to represent him in court this morning.
“Because it is a capital offence, whether you did it or not, the presumption is that the prosecution should prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. So the burden is on them it is not for the defendant to just say I am guilty and they will enter judgement, the punishment if death.
“The prosecution should go ahead and prove their case and we are waiting for them. Gracious David West has a defence which we shall open up at the appropriate time”.
On his part, Chidi Eke, the Principal State Counsel from the Rivers State Ministry of Justice said “We consider that case a very sensible one that the state should not ignore, considering the fact that all the people they have killed apart from the fact that they were from Rivers State, they are human beings and the state has the responsible to protect its citizens wherever they come from and if anyone goes contrary to the laws of the land even to that extent the state has to rise to condemn it.
“So, the state want to see why the accused killed the victims and to ensure that justice is done, because justice is a tripartite arrangement; justice to the victims of crime, justice to the state whose law has been broken and justice to the defendant.
“So today the state to ensure it gets to the people, the citizens that believe, that sense that they are protected, the state has taken over to prosecute the matter to its logical conclusion.
“The first date after today for the prosecution to open its case is on November 18, 21, 27, 29 and December 4, 2019, by what time before we exhaust those dates the prosecution would have gone far or at least close its case and we shift over to the case of the defence”.
Meanwhile, SP Glady Imegu, Officer in Charge Legal, Rivers State Police Command, told journalists that “The court actually directed upon the application from a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice, he made an application to take over and the court granted the application. It is a constitutional right and the same time we made it clear that we have the constitutional right also to prosecute the matter. But in any case it is their constitutional right to take over the case and we are averse to it.
“It is for the betterment of the state, we are working together, he has been remanded in prison custody”.